Tummy aches, headaches, fever. I put my son to bed and tell him I’m just going to leave the house for a moment to get some coffee. This isn’t unusual for him.
As I walk down the street he calls after me from the balcony.
“Mummy! It really really hurts now!”
“Sweetheart just lie down and you’ll be fine. I’ll be back in a moment.”
I turn back even before I’ve made it to the corner of the street. I can get coffee tomorrow.
As I enter the bedroom I see how he has bundled himself up in the duvet. His eyes are open, he is staring at the wall next to him. I tell him I came back and gently pull the duvet loose a little. I then see he is holding Rupert, a small cuddly toy he got when he was two. He is eight now and I never see Rupert anymore. It must have been under the bed or so.
As I plant a kiss on his cheek and stroke his sweaty forehead I tell him he’ll feel better by tomorrow. He nods, loosens his grip.
On sitting by him for a moment longer, I consider how I wish I had a Rupert. A child knows how to express what he needs. And to console himself in the meantime if necessary. Why don’t we?